By Tammy I. Glenn, founder, HomeBoundResources.com
…Can Result in Planning to Fail.
If you subscribe to Disabled Dealer Magazine (and you should!), then you probably have a family member or a friend, or maybe you’re that person, who benefits from all the good materials Chris Rohan researches for you each month.
Did you plan on being in need of information on disabilities? Probably not. Are you trouble-shooting on a day-to-day basis? Probably.
Physical disabilities and health issues are rarely ones we sit around planning for. In some ways, it’s a challenge to plan for the unknown, particularly long-term care concerns. Who knows what’s really going to happen, and if anything’s going to happen at all?
If you’re a caregiver, you may have covered your bases for the patient, but consider how thoughtful it would be to put in place your own life documents to ease the burden on your family and friends—in advance! Don’t put them in a position to scramble. Empower them.
The reality is that illness, disability, death, or a combination thereof, are a fairly sure bet. Why not take a few key steps to make sure you are prepared to the best of your ability? Why not have a conversation with yourself and then with your closest confidantes about your resources and wishes in the event special challenges arise?
From my experience, there are at least two, if not four, legal documents that everyone should have in place. These are:
- Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care—This document appoints someone to act on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated and it also states upfront what kind of care you want—or don’t want—in the event you are unable to communicate this to physicians yourself.
- A Will—This document names one or more individuals who are legally empowered to oversee the transfer of your property upon your death. This does not protect your assets from probate as a Living Trust would.
- Revocable Living Trust—In essence, during your lifetime, you transfer all of your property (e.g., car, house, bank accounts) into a legal shell called a trust. It is particularly useful in the event of your death as this document avoids probate by allowing an administrative trustee to continue paying your bills without everything being frozen in probate by the courts. Your named trustee is then empowered to move forward, following the directives that are outlined in your will.
- Financial Power of Attorney—This is a simple way to allow someone to handle your finances in the event that you cannot. (By the way, consider what would happen to your bills/payments if you were to wind up in the hospital for six weeks. Do you have a plan?)
These are the basics, and I’m putting them out there so that you can start thinking and hopefully begin putting your wishes into action. It’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s okay to make some decisions and change your mind later. I certainly have! What I think is NOT okay is to be thoughtless and to procrastinate. Take a look online and you’ll find tons of free resources and information on these four documents—and if you have suggestions, let me know at www.HomeBoundResources.com
Tammy I. Glenn is the founder of www.HomeBoundResources.com. She serves as an expert advisor on elder care/aging to KCET-TV Los Angeles, is a member of the Board of Advisors for the National Senior Citizens Bureau and the Executive Director for www.vcCaregivers.org. She has nearly 20 years of experience as a caregiver to her mother and is the author of “The Carefree Caregiver: A Short Course to Peace of Mind” in addition to numerous contributed articles.